The story goes that my mom put me in dance at Ernie Miller's Dance Studio in Denver, Colorado at the age of 5 because she didn't want me to be as uncoordinated as she felt she was. I practiced ballet and "shuffle ball change (which I thought was buffalo ball chain)" with the other "peanuts" in the class, as we were called by Mr. Miller. After each lesson I got a dum dum sucker and shoved my ballet slippers and tap shoes into my rectangular vinyl-covered black dance bag. Before a big recital, my mom fussed endlessly over the bunny ears headband that wouldn't stay up straight. Afterwards, I took a photo with my grandpa in my red and white striped jazz costume after he presented me with flowers for what I am sure was a performance only thrilling to loved ones.
Fast forward to El Paso, Texas where I joined a dance team. It was here that I first realized that my body was bigger than the other girls around me. I didn't learn much technique - mostly just got better at learning steps, and got to be the Captain and Co-Captain once in a while as the title rotated each month from girl to girl.
I got my dancing legs, really, from Glenda Folk and her daughter, Tricia, in Scottsdale, Arizona. I learned ballet, a little bit of tap, and jazz. I practiced my fan kicks, tendus, and more shuffle ball changes. The day Glenda told me I could get toe shoes was the most exciting experience ever...until I put them on (OUCH)! Finally finding my center and completing a double turn was another milestone I worked very hard to achieve.
I danced my way through junior high and high school, through recitals, and high school musicals.
But then I stopped.
Realizing that I did not have a traditional dancer's body and that I was not good enough to be a professional, I saw no value in continuing to develop as a dancer. It was time to go to college and get serious about a profession, a career, and being an adult.
It had been 12 years since I had taken a bona fide dance lesson when I saw a man giving ballroom lessons out of my gym. "Why not?" I thought - I hated the gym routine and working out with a trainer hadn't helped me drop the significant weight I had gained since college.
Five lessons later and I was hooked. Fueled by the popular show Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) and the discovery of a new way to experience dance in partnership, I worked my way up to dancing in heels, dancing 4 lessons a week, and even doing a competition - all at over 250 pounds.
And then, my teacher disappeared. Miserable with my working situation, I quit my job and didn't have the funds to purchase more lessons elsewhere. And so I spent another two year hiatus away from the love of my life - dancing.
I am happy to report that I have found a new dancing home. I am once again working my way up to dancing in heels and taking 5 or 6 lessons a week. I am focused on improving as I prepare myself to compete at future competitions.
So welcome to my blog as I document my journey to this competition (and others to follow), as I document my weight release process (down 40 pounds, 130 pounds to go), and as I share with you my thoughts and insights about dance.
Ballroom dancing is my passion. Thank you to all my teachers for getting me where I am today and for my current teacher, Ivan, for getting me to where I want to go.
Get ready to be inspired as I take on my life like no kidding.